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A Man Lay Dead, by Ngaio Marsh

March 3, 2014

Party Like It’s 1929

The marvelous Peter Dickinson – and we’ll run a special on his books very soon, because you simply MUST read them! – once wrote a marvelous essay on why the country-house party, held between the two world wars, is the ideal setting for a murder mystery. Dickinson himself used this as a setting, to great advantage, in The Last Houseparty (now, sadly, out of print, but watch this space). And it can be no accident that both Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh began their series (with The Crime at Black Dudley, and A Man Lay Dead, respectively) at parties stuffed with flappers and philosophers and Bright Young Things.

Of course, they were actually writing during the period in question (Black Dudley was first published in 1929, and A Man in 1934), so the roadsters and rouged knees were as contemporary, as commonplace to them as cell phones and Frappuccinos would be to a novelist today. And that ease with period-detail is part of what makes these books so delightful, the relaxed assumptions about elements from clothes to cars to the political climate that to us seem unspeakably exotic. As Winter winds down, could you use a brief vacation? Take it in the 1930s, and take it (mostly) on us: This week only, A Man Lay Dead is our Felony of the Week and 25% off.

Take Me There!

 

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